Electric utes and swimming SUVs: our favourites from the 2024 Beijing Auto Show

Damien O’Carroll
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The Beijing Auto Show (or Auto China, or the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, depending on who you ask) is set to become the most important motor show in the region, certainly for our market, as the increasing emergence (and even domination) of Chinese manufacturers and Chinese-built models from established manufacturers continue to hit our shore.

This year's show took place from April 25 to May 5 and saw not only a vast array of models from Chinese domestic manufacturers, but also all major international brands that were present.

The Beijing Auto Show. Looks deceptively quiet from the outside, but inside it was a different story...

We went over for a look with Omoda Jaecoo, the latest Chinese brand to set up shop in New Zealand, and not only got to check out new models that will be coming here as part of the Chery-owned company's local offerings, but also some of the truly wild stuff that we won't see here from all the manufacturers.

Including everything from hot hatches to fully-electric utes, by way of SUVs that can float, here are our favourites from the 2024 Beijing Auto Show!

Jaecoo J7 and J8 PHEVs

The petrol-powered Jaecoo J7 is heading our way soon. This PHEV is likely to follow.

Arguably the two debuts most relevant to the New Zealand market, Jaecoo unveiled plug-in hybrid versions of its J7 and J8 SUVs.

While the ICE version of the J7 is due here shortly (we had an early taste of it while in China for the show), the PHEV significantly ups the power - where the ICE car will produce somewhere between 135kW and 145kW, the PHEV bumps this up to 255kW thanks to the addition of the electric motor.

Okay, so this pic doesn't do it any favours, but the Jaecoo J8 is a handsome large SUV.

The J8, meanwhile, takes things even further by adding two electric motors to the same 1.5-litre petrol engine for AWD and an impressive 445kW of power and 915Nm of torque.

Jetour T5

The Jetour J5 will feature an advanced hybrid drivetrain.

Imagine a Ford Bronco with a 2.0-litre turbo engine and an advanced hybrid system and you have an idea where Chery's SUV brand Jetour is heading with the T5.

Debuting at the show with a brilliant matte orange finish and bristling with off-road accessories, the T5 will be Jetour's first ladder chassis SUV and is expected to be launched sometime in the next 12 months.

Oh, and it looks awesome too!

Special mention to an SUV not shown, but teased by Jetour at the show: the T7, a vehicle that, according to the company "redefines the boundaries between land and water" and will be capable of "navigating waters as easily as it cruises on land" with the ability to sail for up to 40 minutes, much like the:

YangWang U8

The YangWang U8 is enormous. And very, very chromey.

Of course the massive SUV that makes the bold claim of being able to sail for up to 30 minutes (albeit only in emergencies, according to BYD, YangWang's parent company) was a big (and we mean BIG) attraction at the Beijing show.

With an electric motor for each wheel and a 2.0-litre petrol engine that acts as a range-extending generator, the U8 is an off-road monster, with 880kW of power and 1280Nm of torque, and will rocket to 100km/h in just 3.6 seconds.

The U8's external bling is backed up by a seriously high-quality and luxurious interior.

It is also ridiculously luxurious and packed with tech. A luxury yacht for the land? Yeah, that'll do...

Exeed E08

The boom of high-end luxury people movers in China is the reason behind the huge Exeed E08.

The explosion of high-end electric MPVs in China has seen all the domestic manufacturers rushing to introduce luxury-laden models with six or more seats. And none made more of an impact than the massive Exeed E08.

Despite its size (it's more than than 5.2 metres long) the E08 is a dedicated six-seater with four massive armchairs in the first two rows, and a plush couch-style seat in the third, while a pillarless design and the huge sliding side doors provided complete access to all three rows.

The E08 features massive sliding doors that even allow access to the third row of seats.

While the E08 looks like a wild concept car, it will actually likely be heading into production before the end of the year, but the chances of it heading our way any time soon are very slim.

iCar V23 and V25

The iCar V23 is the same size as a Suzuki Jimny 5-door, but is all electric.

Chery was on fire at the Beijing show, with its budget/youth SUV brand, iCar also debuting one fantastic new model destined for production and one off-the-wall concept; the V23 and X25.

The V23 is similar in size to the Suzuki Jimny 5-door and boasts the same Land Rover Defender-esque styling as its larger brother, the iCar 03 (that we might be seeing here as a Jaecoo). The production V23 will be available in either RWD or AWD variants, with ranges of up to 400km for the RWD and 500km for the AWD, strongly suggesting that the AWD will have a rumoured 80kWh battery from CATL.

The X25 needs to be put into production immediately, for the sake of all the Mitsubishi Star Wagon fans.

The X25 concept, on the other hand, is a compact 4X4 people mover. Yes, really. The only real detail about the X25 revealed at the show was the fact it is a range-extender. Well, that and the fact that it is giving off extremely strong Mitsubishi Delica Star Wagon 4x4 vibes.

BYD Ocean-M

Watch out MG4? BYD's Ocean-M could trigger a Chinese hot hatch war and we're here for that.

BYD's response to the MG4 (and its hot XPower variant) was also a big draw at the Beijing show and not just due to its exaggerated body kit and searing orange paint finish.

Again, details were lacking about what is powered the Ocean-M, but the handsome 5-door hatch is said to sit on BYD's latest e-Platform 4.0 architecture and be in line for a RWD hot hatch variant.

Ignore the wild body kit and blanked off interior and the Ocean-M looks all-but production-ready.

Strip the ocean-M of its wilder show car elements and it certainly appeared to be very much production-ready, and with a rumoured Chinese market price tag between ¥150,000 and ¥200,000 (NZ$34,700 to $46,300), MG should perhaps be a bit worried...


COuld the JAC T9 EV ute make it to New Zealand? We wouldn't bet against it...

The tsunami of hybrid and electric utes is going to hit us very shorty, and the JAC T9 could well be part of the first, well, wave (sorry about that).

Little was actually revealed about the electric T9 at the show, but it is said to pack an 88kWh battery that is good for up to 500km of range, with two electric motors pushing 230kW and 518Nm to all four wheels.

No word on payload or towing, but the T9 EV packs dual motors for AWD.

While the part VW-owned company has launched the ICE T9 in Australia, the company has opened up in New Zealand with an initial focus on commercial trucks. Note the use of the word "initial" there, as utes are strongly rumoured to make up part of the JAC fleet here eventually.

Dongfeng 2024 Concept Pickup Truck

Did someone say "Cybertruck"? Dongfeng keeps the old ways alive with this blatant Tesla knock-off. But we love it anyway!

It wouldn't be a Chinese motor show without at least one blatant rip-off, right?

Well Dongfeng delivered on that in spectacular style with its 2024 Concept Pickup Truck, a Tesla Cybertruck knock-off!

But in a wild twist, the Dongfeng version actually looks better than the Tesla. By rounding off the impractically sharp edges of the Cybertruck and giving it a sensibly flat roof Dongfeng essentially kept the imposing and futuristic aspects, but ditched the impractical weirdness of Tesla's effort.

Admittedly mainly because it has an adorable animated truck tackling terrain in its lightbar!

And it also added some totally gimmicky (but undeniably cool) animations of a tiny truck tackling off-road conditions in the light bars that stretched across the front and rear!

Not likely meant for production, the CyberDong (let's just go with that, okay?) was a showcase for Dongfeng's new EV platform that is said to boast a 1000kW powertrain.

Elsewhere Dongfeng had its Hummer rival, the M-Hero 917 on display in various, increasingly wild forms, but this one has a more convincing pedigree - it is based on the actual military hardware Dongfeng builds for the Chinese army. And it is awesome.

Dongfeng builds the Mengshi SUV for China's military, so of course it has some wild road going versions of civilian consumption.


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